[many Abish' ai] (Heb. Abishay', אֲבַישִׁי, father [i.e. desirous] of a gift; Sept. Α᾿βισαϊv, but Α᾿βεσσά in 1Sa 26:6-9; 1Ch 19:11,15; Α᾿βισσά in 1Ch 2:16; Α᾿βεσσαί in 1Ch 11:20; Α᾿βισά in 1Ch 18:12; and Α᾿μεσά in 2Sa 20:6; also contracted Abshay',אִבשִֻׁי, in the text of 2Sa 10:10; 1Ch 2:16; 1Ch 11:20; 1Ch 18:12; 1Ch 19:11,15; Josephus Α᾿βισαῖος), a nephew of David (by an unknown father, perhaps a foreigner) through his sister Zeruiah, and brother of Joab and Asahel (2Sa 2:18; 1Ch 2:16). The three brothers devoted themselves zealously to the interests of their uncle during his wanderings. Though David had more reliance upon the talents of Joab, he appears to have given more of his private confidence to Abishai, who seems to have attached himself in a peculiar manner to his person, as we ever find him near, and ready for council or action, on critical occasions (2Sa 2:24; 1Ch 19:11). Abishai, indeed, was rather a man of action than of council; and, although David must have been gratified by his devoted and uncompromising attachment, he had more generally occasion to check the impulses of his ardent temperament than to follow his advice (2Sa 3:30). Abishai was one of the two persons whom David asked to accompany him to the camp of Saul, and he alone accepted the perilous distinction (1Sa 26:5-9), B.C. 1055. The desire he then expressed to smite the sleeping king identifies him as the man who afterward burned to rush upon Shimei and slay him for his abuse of David (2Sa 16:9,11; 2Sa 19:21). When the king fled beyond the Jordan from Absalom, Abishai was by his side; and he was intrusted with the command of one of the three divisions of the army which crushed that rebellion (2Sa 18:2-12), B.C. cir. 1023. When the insurrection of Sheba occurred David sent him, in connection with Joab, to quicken the tardy preparations of Amasa in gathering troops against the rebel (2Sa 20:6-10), B.C. cir. 1022. During the last war with the Philistines David was in imminent peril of his life from a giant named Ishbi-benob, but was rescued by Abishai, who slew the giant (2Sa 21:15-17), B.C. cir. 1018. He was also the chief of the second rank (2Sa 23:19; 1Ch 11:20) of the three "mighties," who, probably in some earlier war, performed the chivalrous exploit of breaking through the host of the Philistines to procure David a draught of water from the well of his native Bethlehem (2Sa 23:14-17). Among the exploits of this hero it is mentioned (2Sa 23:18) that he withstood 300 men, and slew them with his spear; but the occasion of this adventure, and the time and manner of his death, are equally unknown. In 2Sa 8:13, the victory over the Edomites in the Valley of Salt (B.C. cir. 1037) is ascribed to David, but in 1Ch 18:12, to Abishai. It is hence probable that the victory was actually gained by Abishai, in connection with Joab (1Ki 11:16), but is ascribed to David as king and commander-in-chief (comp. 2Sa 10:10,14). SEE DAVID.

Bible concordance for ABISHAI.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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